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Kangavar

 

The small town of Kangavar is about 90 kilometres from Hamadan. Its name may be derived from the Avestan Kanha-vara, 'enclosure of Kanha'. Kangavar was mentioned by Isidore of Charax in the 1st century AD, by the name of "Konkobar" or "Concobar" (Greek:Κογκοβάρ) in the ancient province of Ecbatana (modern Hamedan). In antiquity, the city was in Media, with a temple of Artemis(Isidor. Char. p. 7; Tab. Pent.; Geogr. Rav.)

Excavations here have revealed the remains of a temple dedicated to Anahita, the goddess of water and abundance, which dates back to Seleucid or Parthian times. The site was first described in 1840 by two Frenchmen, Eugene Flandin and Pascal Coste, although the presence of modern houses on the site at the time led to inaccuracies in the drawing of their temple plan. Excavations were carried out in the 1960s and 1970s, but have been interrupted since.

In the early 20th century, Kangāvar was held in fief by the family of a deceased court official, forming a separate government.

Today, the town is best known for the archaeological remains of a mixed Sassanid andAchaemenid-style edifice. During the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the ruins were misused as a source for building material for the expanding town. Excavation first began in 1968, by which time the "large structure with its great columns set on a high stone platform" had been associated with a comment by Isidore of Charax, that refers to a "temple of Artemis" (Parthian Stations 6) at "Concobar" in Lower Medea, on the overland trade route between the Levant and India. References to Artemis in Iran are generally interpreted to be references to Anahita, and thus Isidore's "temple of Artemis" came to be understood as a reference to a temple of Anahita.

Although a general plan of the complex has been compiled, it is still not sufficient to learn about the function and shape of the terrace and the buildings that stood there. Given the lack of archaeological evidence for a temple-like building, "it is questionable whether the [temple noted by Isodore] is identical with the ruins of Kangāvar. Isidorus described obviously another temple of the first century AD, somewhere in the region of Congobar (Kangāvar) or at the place of the later platform, which, according to the results of the excavation, seems to be built up in Sasanian times."

Despite the archaeological findings, the association with the divinity of fertility, healing, and wisdom has made the site a popular tourist attraction.

 

 

Today, the main remains are the platform on which the temple was built and a large staircase on the south side leading up to it. The best preserved part of the temple is in the western corner where several sections of columns are visible (the best view of them is to be had from the side road parallel to that part of the temple). Fragments of columns and building blocks have been assembled in front of the staircase and, despite the work that has already been carried out, it is still rather difficult to imagine the overall layout of the temple complex.


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